ROMANOV by Nadine Brandes
Updated: May 3
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As a true child of the nineties, I absolutely adored Fox Animation Studios’ Anastasia, and it quickly became one of my all-time favorite films. I remember begging my grandmother to buy me the soundtrack for my birthday, and I listened to it on repeat in my now-antiquated boom box. I’m grinning just typing this now!
The legend of the missing princess fascinated to me, and I loved Fox’s interpretation of it. So much that I annoyed my sisters with my atrocious Bartok impression (DEAD DEAD DEAD). However, the 2007 discovery of Anastasia and Alexei’s remains was quite disheartening. No more tantalizing mystery.
Just recently, I did more digging into the historical context surrounding the deaths of the tsar and his family…and my heart broke even more. I wasn’t told much about it in school other than the tsar hadn’t provided for the military as he should have, and Russia revolted. Oh, and the revolutionaries killed them. That’s it (or maybe I fell asleep in history class, ha). The more I learned, well...every story has multiple layers, and this one isn’t an exception. I then discovered Nadine Brandes’ Romanov. Like I could pass up the opportunity to read it. Please.
I was not disappointed in the least.
When I noticed the dates in the beginning, I cringed. I knew what was coming soon and yet Nastya’s impish and sunbeam-like personality drew me in. I loved hearing her thoughts and understood what life might’ve been like during the Romanovs’ imprisonment. Her evergreen hope and desire to show how her family’s love even to their captors was such a joy to read. Each character felt tangible and had their own motivations, making the story all the more captivating. I learned to care about every one of them.
The relationship between Nastya and Zash (and Maria and Ivan) had the Stockholm Syndrome (SS) feel at first, I’ll admit, but it grew to be so much more than that. The story centers on trust and forgiveness, both of which resonated with me on a personal level, allowing me to dismiss the SS aspect. (Disney’s animated Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite movies though…ha)
With that being said, Nastya and Zash’s relationship was real and believable. They respected and understood each other on a deeper level. As a Christian, I also deeply appreciate a clean romance story, and this one fit the bill perfectly. Thank you, Nadine!
I have little more to say about this other than it was wonderful. The balance between the historical account and fiction was written masterfully. I particularly loved the inclusion of the Russian language as I have a few Russian relatives, so this was a cool way to make the story seem even more real to me!
Overall, I thought the pacing was great. I didn’t skim any of it nor did I grow bored. I know she took liberties with the historical events to make it fit the narrative, but each made sense and never felt out of place. Brandes also set up each reveal so they never felt like a “deus ex machina.” Lovely!
I will say that I called Big Baddie’s fate (no spoilers), which disappointed me a little (not the fate itself, just that I figured it out before it happened. I love being surprised!). However, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the finale. 😊
That I started and finished this book in a single day says a lot (well, maybe it was one in the morning when I finished it…tomato-tomahto). I also hope that Brandes goes back to dabble in this world again. She gave us a satisfying conclusion, but I’d say there are a few doors open for a sequel. As I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, I hope that is the case and plan on picking up her other works in the meantime!
Buy this book on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Swk3IF
Where can you find Nadine Brandes?
YouTube: Nadine Brandes